Poems: Existence

ROC

It is what it is
Over 1000 posts
Wow. That's a bad day.

But... mewking?

Surely an error.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
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no no no!
Just a perfect blend of MEW and PUKE!
Good poem.
Just imagine taking a mundane backbreaking situation like that and making a powerful poem out of it!
This one is gonna last.
flick flick flick
 
Is that last line in something else or am I just not used to seeing this poem this way?

Is this published in a collection under another title?
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
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Part of it is quoted in the article Buk - The Bogart of Poets by Nat Freedland, which originally appeared in Knight Magazine, Volume 7 Issue Number 5, September 1969.
 

Olaf

Over 100 posts
Solid poem as ever...

At the start it appears bukowski is talking about putting up his frame in the post office, I have to do this every monring too, I can understand his annoyance and his musing...particularly:

'I huddle in front of this cheesebox of numbers
poking in small cards
addressed to non-existent
lives
while the whole town is drunk
and fucks in the streets and sings
with the bird'

I can relate to this. sitting up your frame. and pondering what all those households and streets are playing at, while you sort their mail.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
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Over 1000 posts
Wow. That's a bad day.

But... mewking?

Surely an error.
no no no!
Just a perfect blend of MEW and PUKE!
Funny thing. A few days after writing this I was listening to some Shakespeare on my cheap MP3-player when the following line was read:
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
So the question is: had Buk recently been reading Shaky when he came up with the word mewking?
;)
Don't these lines from the poem sound a bit "shakyish"?:
master, damn you, you've found me a sweet lock,
my mouth puckering to a mewking cry,
PS: you can read the whole Shaky-monologue here: http://www.artofeurope.com/shakespeare/sha9.htm
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
So I guess he really did hate the post office. I'm wonder about that "master" -- God, or the supervisor? God, I'm guessing.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
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Over 1000 posts
Read again! The master is obviously good old Uncle Sam:
with these elements I could die on any rug
you have ready, not the street, Sir Sam,
the street is so hard, at least
give me the walls I have paid a life for,
But on the other hand: God - Uncle Sammy - same difference.
Love that last line.
Damn! This poam is growing on me! :cool:
 

roni

Over 5000 posts
Read again! The master is obviously good old Uncle Sam
I ain't sure.
o.k., shortly after that passage, he's talking to "Sir Sam".

and taking your find on Shakey:
Though we know that almost every time, Buk mentions Shakey, he's talking Against him - this doesn't neccessarily mean, he wasn't - somwhow - 'influenced' by his style, say, shortly after reading him (which we know he did).
(and we all know from our own reading: after an hour of reading, you often start to even THINK in the writing style of the guy you just read.)

I wouldn't be surprised, if Buk had read Shakey shortly before writing this.

In Shakey's plays, the naming of a "master" usually comes from a servant/slave, of course. And sure, Buk feels himself being a slave to some 'master' in this sense here.

This again points to "Sir Sam".

Only I sense him argueing against something bigger as any gouvernment, I feel he's mourning against a certain constitution (is this the word?) of Life in General.

This includes (1) not only 'Sam', but EVERY 'boss' who forces his employees to work like hell.
And (2) includes (as I see it) also 'God' or some 'higher forces' or even Life in general - at least I think his laments, since they're not only pointed on his job but also on the alternative (other people have) to be 'drunk, fuck, sing' etc. which he cannot have, point more against the life-situation itself than accusing the soup or 'Sam' only.

B.t.w.: IF he's refferring to This Shakey-monologue in Any way - let's have a look at the play where it's in ('As You Like It'):
It's build around this same contrast/polarity of sterile court-life (where the master-servant/slave situation dominates everything) vs the Free Life in the woods. And with Shakey too, this is only one concrete story to state a message about the problem in General.

I don't say, it IS so. Only I throw in some possies.
(and the worst thing: being no native-speaker I'm not even able to handle the language proper and not sure I really got anything right. sorry, kids.)
 

cirerita

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Over 1000 posts
I just noticed that this poem -slightly "reworked"- was published in The People Look Like Flowers at Last as "life at the P.O".
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
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Over 1000 posts
B.t.w.: IF he's referring to This Shakey-monologue in Any way - let's have a look at the play where it's in ('As You Like It'):
It's build around this same contrast/polarity of sterile court-life (where the master-servant/slave situation dominates everything) vs the Free Life in the woods. And with Shakey too, this is only one concrete story to state a message about the problem in General.

I don't say, it IS so. Only I throw in some possies.
(and the worst thing: being no native-speaker I'm not even able to handle the language proper and not sure I really got anything right. sorry, kids.)
Hmm never thought about it like that. I was actually just listening to an MP3-file of monologues from different plays. Its a good way to get into Shaky, by the way. Lots of stuff from his plays can be appreciated on its own. (See www.librivox.org to get some Shakylogues on your earphones.)

I i didn't actually mean to say that Buk was willfully referring to Shaky. More like he was reading him around that time and the tone, flow and words of the Bard colored his own line. I know Buk in some of his letters shows appreciation of Shaky, saying that he was one of the last who could handle th long narrative poem - or something like that. I always thought that the poem "The kings are gone" was a sort of homage to Shaky in a way. ("the kings..." is from 62 while "existence" is from 63, so they might have been written round about the same period.))

But your ideas ring true too. Anythng is possible with a good poem. And one things certain: being a poet in Shaky's time was really tough going. No electricity, no ballpoints, no typers, no PCs, no running water, no toilets, no toilet paper!, no liquor stores, no aspirin... no etc. Poets in those "good ol days" sure weren't no candy-asses!

PS: no problem with your English Ronni. Keep those posts flowing! :)
 

roni

Over 5000 posts
"Art not thou the Lady Olivia's fool?" -
"No, indeed, sir. She will keep no fool, sir, till she be married."
(from: 'Twelfth Night', [III,1])

I find Shakey a little underrated these days...


@Erik: thanks for the kind words!
 

Purple Stickpin

Over 5000 posts
Here's another one. It's from Sciamachy No. 5, 1963. The poem Existence was collected in Cold Dogs in the Courtyard, but I'm thinkin' that most of us don't have that one ;) (I sure as hell don't). Another Post Office-related poem. I think this one is absolutely brilliant, and I suppose it must have been lost in the shuffle when putting together the posthumous books. Somewhere in the dirtiest recesses of my perverted mind I remember someone here mentioning the use of "mewking," so maybe more of us know about this than I'm thinking.

[Added] Having just finsihed typing this poem, I read it to my wife, and she asked to read it on her own. This may well be in Buk's top 10. Shit, it's a great poem...

Existence

I huddle in front of this cheesebox of numbers
poking in small cards
addressed to non-existent
lives
while the whole town is drunk
and fucks in the street and sings
with the birds
I stand under a small electric light
and send messages to a dead Garcia,
and I am old enough to die,
I have always been old enough to die,
and I stand before this wooden cage
and feed its voiceless insides,
this is my job, my rent, my whore, my shoes,
the sickening task of leeching the color from my eyes;
master, damn you, you've found me a sweet lock,
my mouth puckering to a mewking cry,
my hands shriveling across my lonely
red-spotted sunless chest;
with these elements I could die on any rug
you have ready, not the street, Sir Sam,
the street is so hard, at least
give me the walls I have paid a life for,
and when the Hawk comes down
I will meet him halfway,
we will embrace where where the wallpaper tears,
where the rains came in
where the heater said so steadily steady
and then
was shut off;
I stand before wood and numbers,
I stand before a graveyard of eyes and mouths
of heads hollowed out for shadows,
and shadows enter and sit
like mice and look out at me

I put in cards with secret numbers,
listening to toilets flush;
agents cut the wires and test my heartbeat,
listen for sanity
or cheer or love, and finding none,
satisfied, they leave:
flick, flick, flick, I stand before the wood
and my soul faints on a floor crawling with bugs
and beyond the the wood is a window
with sounds, grass, walking, towers, dogs,
but here I stand and here I stay,
sending cards noted with my own ending;
and I am sick with caring: go out, everything,
and send fire.
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
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Nicely typed Purple, but er... [edit threads merged]
 

Purple Stickpin

Over 5000 posts
Well, a typing exercise, if nothing else. Perhaps a few Buk fans will see this, having missed the thread that you linked to. If one person is inspired, my work is done.:cool:

I forgot to hit "search" before doing this. But that doesn't make me a bad person.;)
 

mjp

Your Host
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Well the benefit of having it in text is that Google will find it now, and once we suck them in through there, they are doomed.
 

james

Over 1000 posts
thanks purple! i have "cold dogs" but haven't gotten it out for a look in years. now's a good a time as any for a re-read. great poem yes! i missed the first thread of it so your work IS done!:)
 

Billville

Over 100 posts
This line is interesting: "and send messages to a dead Garcia."
Has anyone here ever read, A Message to Garcia, by Elbert Hubbard? It was a best selling poem around the turn of the century (20th). The gist of it was to just do your job and don't ask how, when or why--just do it and get it done. Evidently there's some sort of virtue in that. Not exactly a message Buk (or anyone with half a brain) would subscribe to. It's funny that he referenced it.
 

Purple Stickpin

Over 5000 posts
Actually, given the many menial jobs that Buk had, it seems to me a very appropriate line. Not what Buk would agree to, but something that Buk would have experienced and had to acquiesce to. Like the light manufacturer job when he went off to catch the last race at the track.

"Who'd want a woman like that?" One of his best lines ever.:D
 

Billville

Over 100 posts
I agree that he probably did write that way. I was thinking more along the lines of what Purple Stickpin mentioned --all the menial jobs and even those I'm sure he questioned. What was that line--in factotum I think ... "why do I even have to be something," (or something along those lines). I bet he questioned his jobs not to mention the authority behind them--which he probably couldn't stand. Hubbard seems to praise that very same authority--even kiss it's ass. Something Buk would never do.
 

anna101

Over 100 posts
lol maybe you're talking about barfly ;)

my dad has the same attitude to work as buk.
that is why i have a truly amazing family :)
 

Purple Stickpin

Over 5000 posts
I'd say "you're welcome," but everyone here is welcome to every word Buk wrote. So, "you're worthy?"

How about "you're human?"

Yes. You're human; therefore, you read this.
 

mjp

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In Cold Dogs the line; "I have always been old enough to die" is left out. Likely just a transcription error, as Frances typed the manuscript for Cold Dogs from the various magazines the poems had been published in.

And, as usual, it was more than slightly reworked in The People Look Like Flowers, replacing "ending" with "demise," etc., etc., etc. No point in asking 'why?' anymore.
 
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